Filner seeks funding for radio system

April 12, 2002|By MATT YOUNG

Special to this newspaper

WASHINGTON (MNS) — Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., asked a House appropriations subcommittee this week for $14 million to enhance emergency communications in Imperial County.

‘‘Unfortunately this community is ill-prepared to respond to emergencies because they lack the infrastructure to enable them to answer the call in a time of crisis,'' Filner stated.

The current system is deteriorating, has interference problems and does not permit radio coverage in certain county areas, he said.

Because Imperial County borders Mexico, and has three ports of entry, Filner called his request one of national security.

‘‘Our (communications) project is extremely important,'' said county Executive Officer Ann Capela.

Capela said an ambulance driver, a firefighter and a deputy could be driving down a road in Imperial County next to each other and not be able to communicate. They would have to connect through their respective departments, which takes time, she said.


She also said Mexican radio transmissions ‘‘don't have a green card,'' and sometimes interfere with the county's emergency radio network.

Renovated with federal money, the new system would allow direct communication between emergency vehicles, eliminate interference from Mexico and tap into San Diego County's updated emergency network, Capela said.

But county spokesman Dave Crockett said when Imperial County citizens were confronted with a past proposal to spend money to enhance the communications network, they voted no. It's not because they didn't value the idea, he said.

‘‘If you're barely making ends meet, you don't want more taxes,'' he said.

Filner is up for re-election in November, and if he wins, would represent Imperial County beginning in January as a result of redistricting.

In an unrelated development, California Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon met with President Bush seeking campaign support Wednesday afternoon.

‘‘Water is an important issue for us,'' Simon told reporters after the meeting. ‘‘I know it is too, in Imperial County.''

Simon proposed developing new water sources through reclamation programs to recycle water and building more off-stream storage facilities.

When asked what he would do to stimulate employment and income in Imperial County, Simon said he favors reducing the tax on capital gains and lowering workers' compensation costs.

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